A new era of simulated football is upon us! In lieu of just previewing the roster for the upcoming season, this season preview post will dive a bit into the world that we’re entering while giving a glance at the 2022 East Carolina Pirates roster that has been inherited by Coach Luke Touchdown.
It may take a few seasons to get used to all of the changes in this new football world so bear with me here. It’s not that this new universe is hard to understand but it’s because there is one element that is rather unique for American sports.
That’s Relegation, Holmes!
The 2022 season of NCAA football in this alternate universe is the start of a major change to college athletics. It has taken nearly a decade to prepare for but the NCAA will now be operating under a relegation system that promotes and demotes teams each year between different regional conference tiers.
If you are a more casual reader of this series, all you really need to know is this:
Conference champions get promoted to a better conference each season, and the teams with the worst conference record get relegated to a lesser conference. You can likely skim past this and go right to the part about the Pirates unless you are particularly interested in how this all works.
Okay. So, if you’re among the dedicated skeleton crew then you likely want to know a bit more here about how this is all going to go down and how it may affect our East Carolina Pirates.
What has happened is that the NCAA doubled down on turning college sports into a matter of regional pride. The major conferences have been broken into three regions and three tiers. And, there are three regional commissioners that wield power over those three conference tiers in their region. Their job is specifically to get the most titles possible for their part of the country. Mr. Matt, Mr. Deuce, and Mr. Andy are running the Southern, Northern, and Western regions respectively.
After some negotiations, they agreed to this original breakdown of the conferences to start relegation in 2022:
At the end of each season, the promotion and relegation process occurs based on the best and worst teams from each conference. That sets up the new conference structure for the next year and money is distributed accordingly. Then, a new season of bedlam occurs and we do it all over again.
As you peer through those conferences, you may notice that you don’t see little East Carolina University on there. Well, that is because each region had three “leftover” teams that didn’t fit neatly into these new conference structures and that’s where the American Conference stepped in…
Say Hello To The American Conference
The American Conference agreed to be a training ground for each region, in a way. Each region has three schools trying to make their way back into relegation by competing in this conference. This region also is the permanent home to all of the service academies. The service academies are, in a way, protecting the American Conference.
If the winner of the American Conference is not a service academy in a given year, the champion gets promoted out of the American Conference and is put back into relegation play.
Our Pirates are starting their journey in this conference and they are hoping to one day become champs so that they can replace a team in Conference USA. And, then, they can maybe start their rise of moving up the tiers and one day making the playoffs.
The College Football Playoffs
Yes, there will be a playoff at the end of the season in this world. Unlike the real world’s current four-team structure or future twelve-team structure, this universe agreed to a nice eight-team playoff.
These are meant to be national playoffs where each region is represented to compete for national pride. Each region sends two schools to the playoffs at the end of the season and those schools form the top six seeds of a tournament. The remaining seeds are given to the two highest-ranked teams in the country aside from those six.
Just like anything, this may all seem a little strange at first but it’ll become more familiar each year! And, hey, if you end up watching this series on Twitch then we can have fun tournament guessing games even if the Pirates don’t make the playoff. And, speaking of the Pirates…
Now Meet The 2022 Pirates!
East Carolina has been down in the dumps for years at this point and Coach Luke Touchdown is not walking into a favorable situation. The controversial coaching hire is drawing headlines regardless and the pressure is on. The blessing of this situation is that we are in the American Conference, which is the dumpster conference for the country. As a result, our schedule isn’t too scary.
Yes, we’re rated 67 overall out of the gates. That’s quite bad. Or very bad. Or extremely bad. However you want to phrase it. But, we have a good special teams unit at least!
The schedule has an interesting mix of bottom-dwelling teams as well as out-of-conference games against Wyoming and Akron. For some reason, those schools feel… vaguely meaningful. While it may look like we’re in danger of only winning one-or-two games this season, it will ultimately come down to what we can do with the roster we inherited.
The 2022 Pirates Offense
Look, the offense is not pretty. You might even say that it’s u-g-l-y and that it doesn’t have an alibi. It’s ugly.
There are glimmers of hope though. It’s a year where we can adapt to the roster instead of making the roster adapt to us. And, thus, we can establish a foundation as a classic ground-and-pound football team this season.
It may not be the long-term vision for Coach Touchdown but it’s the obvious approach for this roster. The quarterback is a liability and the receivers are a weak spot on top of that. But we have two decent running backs and an offensive line with above-average run block skills. So, what do you think we’re going to do?
We will run the ball early and often. The truth of the matter is that we need to keep our job and that means getting four-or-five wins out of this season somehow to give ourselves a little job security. So, let’s control the clock and bore our opponents to death and we can maybe steal a few wins from our opponents.
In future seasons, I’ll go into more detail about the characters of the team. For now, I will say that I’m most interested in HB Joseph Mobley of Chapel Hill. If he establishes himself as a dynamic running back then this could actually be a special season out of the gates.
The 2022 Defense & Special Teams
While there’s not a lot to be excited about on the defensive side of the roster, there’s a lot of potential here. As you look deeply at the roster, you can start to see that our best players are mostly true freshmen or sophomores. For instance, ROLB Kenny Funk, FS Jerrod Patrick, and SS Ernest Francis are all true freshmen starters that could be foundational pieces for us in the years ahead. Are you ready to have a linebacker named Kenny Funk leading our defense for years to come? I sure am!
There will be growing pains with this roster, of course, but growing pains are a sign of growth. We will be running a 4-3 defense, but not because we have the right personnel for it. It’s actually because it feels like the best way to attract good defensive linemen to our program moving forward as this is more of a long-term philosophy for the school. We want to win in the trenches and we want to attract players who are into that sort of thing.
On special teams, we had two very good kickers on the roster. I don’t know what the previous coach was thinking. As a result, these kickers are serving as our Kicker and Punter this season and we shall see how it goes.
Let’s Twitch It Up!
I will be making my grand return to Twitch for the first season of this adventure. It won’t be the most exciting first few seasons but we’ll slowly ramp this thing up and get on a regular schedule as we do.
However, there is something that is temporarily messing up my schedule: my favorite baseball team has made the World Series much to my surprise. The first game of the Series is on Friday evening which is when I was originally planning to start this journey. All of the World Series games will be happening at night over the next week so…
For this first stream, I am going to do two daring and bold things. I am going to compete against real college football and I am going to do daytime streams out of the gates here.
If you’re a fan of the series and can’t make these first streams, that’s okay… We’ll have many more in the future and the team will be better in the future as well. For season one, here is my streaming schedule though:
On Saturday morning starting at 11 AM EST, I will be streaming the start of this journey. We’ll likely watch at least two games with the goal of getting through as much of the regular season as we can. Then, I’ll be plodding through concluding the season on Monday afternoon astarting at 1 PM EST.
So, yeah, you can find me on Twitch here if you didn’t know already.
Other Admin Details
So, just a few other things about the series before we get going. There’s a Discord server for the series but, at the moment, I’m still just trying to get everything in order with this series on my end before I’ll be chatting on Discord myself.
There’s also our new Sim To End site which is more of a future home to fun stuff as opposed to something you need to know about now.
And, I have no idea what I’ll use this for yet but I have a little Twitter account that’ll just be for this series in some way: Coach Luke Twitter.
In these next couple of weeks, I’ll just be getting in my groove with this series and establishing what the routine will be. I’m looking forward to going on this ride with you all again though!
Let’s f’n do-something-pirate-related!